The Buffalo Bills signed tight end Charles Clay four years ago and he’s been stable in his time in Western New York. He’s also been overpaid, drawing the ire of many Bills fans. As we enter the final season of his contract, the Bills are able to get out from under his massive contract easily in 2019. Should they move on?
(Read the entire article by Jeff Kantrowski)
Charles Clay is roughly the same player he’s always been for the Buffalo Bills. When healthy he’s dependable in a number of roles, and occasionally shows flashes of dominance. He understandably never shined brightly in offenses designed to avoid passing and with the Josh Allen offense, he never seemed to click. It’s quite understandable that Clay’s tenure with Buffalo has been disappointing as a result.
Clay has a good case for still being the best tight end on the roster, but being the best at a job that the team is still trying to figure out might not be enough. From a purely talent-based perspective there’s no compelling argument for moving on from Clay. But looking at it through the scope of a team looking to get younger while still figuring out their identity on offense, a separation has more merit. With the team not using the position to its fullest and constant injury concerns, it’d be a low risk gamble to try a different option.
Salary Cap Ramifications
(Read the entire article by Dylan Zadonowicz)
Salary cap ramifications of cutting Clay, numbers via Spotrac:
2019 cap hit: $9 million
Salary due: $4.5 million
Dead money if cut: $4.5 million
Cap savings if cut: $4.5 million
In-House Replacement Options
(Read the entire article by John Boccacino)
Internally, there are two other tight ends under team control heading into the 2019 season: Jason Croom and Logan Thomas.
Croom actually led Buffalo’s tight ends in receptions (22), yards (259), and touchdowns (one) last year, appearing in 15 games (three starts). Croom, 24, was more than serviceable in the blocking game, and he was more than capable in his route-running. Croom, who was a wide receiver at the University of Tennessee, was a pre-season breakout candidate last year, and should have an even bigger role in Brian Daboll’s offense in 2019—especially with how Croom (6-foot-5) can present match-up problems to the opposition. Croom would make a logical replacement for Clay if the Bills decide to part ways with the veteran.
Thomas, 27, caught 12 passes (17 targets) for 77 yards in 12 games (three starts). The former collegiate quarterback at Virginia Tech has oozed potential, but that potential has yet to translate onto the field as Thomas has struggled in the blocking sector. A restricted free agent, Thomas appears unlikely to head into the season as the favorite to win the starting tight-end job.
Free-Agent Replacement Options
(Read the entire article by Sean Murphy)
This will be the hot name, as the veteran is coming off the best year of his career last season. Playing for the 4-12 Oakland Raiders, Cook led the team in targets (101), receptions (68), receiving yards (896), and receiving touchdowns (6). Even with Cook’s career year added in, his career average “slash line” is 46/587/3. Add in the fact that Spotrac speculates that Cook’s value is $7.1 million per annum on the open market, and it’s a hard pass for me.
The first of two Cincinnati Bengals to discuss, Uzomah stepped up in place of a pair of injured Tylers this season, breaking through for a career year. He caught 43 passes for 439 yards and three touchdowns; coming into the season, he had totaled only 36 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns in three seasons. He is only 26, so his best years are probably in front of him; however, it would take a leap of faith to sign him and expect production that even equals Clay’s averages.
Another young player from the AFC North, this Pittsburgh Steelers bruiser was drafted three picks after Uzomah in 2015. He has managed a solid career in the Steel City, averaging 34 catches for 340 yards and three touchdowns per year over his career. He is a solid blocker with a big frame at 6’7” and 261 pounds.
Feeling lucky? Roll the dice on Eifert, easily the most gifted of all the available tight ends, but he is also the least likely to stay healthy. The former first-round draft pick of the Bengals in 2013 has only played in 43 games over his six-year career, as he has been sidelined by a stinger, an elbow dislocation, another stinger, an ankle injury (suffered in the Pro Bowl, no less), back surgery, a knee cyst, and a broken ankle. Yikes.
The Baltimore Ravens used a second-round pick on Williams in 2015, and he has largely been a disappointment. Williams caught 32 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown as a rookie, but he suffered a knee injury in his second year that has sapped much of his already-limited athleticism. Since the injury, Williams has made 31 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns in three seasons. He is a tenacious worker and a solid blocker.
NFL Draft Replacement Options
(Read the entire article with mini scouting reports from Andrew Griffin)
T.J. Hockenson (Iowa)
Noah Fant (Iowa)
Irv Smith Jr. (Alabama)
Kaden Smith (Stanford)
Josh Oliver (San Jose State)
Jace Sternberger (Texas A&M)
C.J. Conrad (Kentucky)
Caleb Wilson (UCLA)
Zach Gentry (Michigan)
Isaac Nauta (Georgia)
Read scouting reports on all of them in our dedicated draft options post.
Now it’s your turn to decide. What do you want the Bills to do at starting tight end in 2019?
What should the Bills do with tight end this offseason?
This poll is closed
Keep Clay, Croom, and Thomas
Bye Clay, Croom/Thomas is starter
Bye Clay, sign a free agent starter
Bye Clay, draft a 1st/2nd round starter